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ASSEMBLY LINE MEDICINE: MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR DOCTOR'S APPOINTMENT
Gone are the days when you know your doctor, share family stories with them, and they are a big part of your family. Now are the days where you spend 20 minutes with the nurse or assistant going over your symptoms and medical history, only for the doctor to walk in and, according to a study by the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, spend an average 10.7 minutes examining you. Medical care is no longer care, but an assembly line process and this can hurt patient care, especially if you are a woman. So, as a woman, how can you maximize the care you receive from your doctor?
Eliminate the Intimidation of a Doctor's Visit
Women tend to be intimidated when it comes to seeing a doctor and, aside from telling their doctor what is wrong, they tend to just sit back and let the doctor do his work. However, with the push of seeing as many patients as possible in a day, doctors don't see much more than the notes taken by the nurse. When it comes to face-to-face time with your doctor, you need to be prepared and ask questions. You need to use that average 10 minutes to explain what is really going on. Do not let the appointment intimidate you and be ready to speak up for yourself. Your doctor works for you and you need to do everything you can to help him do his job.
Arrive at Your Visit with Information in Hand
Given the fact that you only have around 10 minutes to give information to your doctor, going into your doctor's office with information ready to ask will maximize your results. Keeping a symptom journal allows you to have a clear list of symptoms you have been experiencing. How many times have we gone to the doctor, only to leave the appointment and remember a symptom we may have had but forgot to tell the doctor about? Having this symptom journal eliminates that problem with the fact that you have the information right there in black and white to show the doctor.
Determine What Questions You Want to Ask Your Doctor Before Your Appointment
As with the symptoms, there are many times we go to the doctor and, after leaving, remember an important question we wanted to ask the doctor. Unfortunately, this usually means having to call the office and wait days or more for a return call from the nursing staff. Determining what questions you want to ask before you head to your appointment eliminates this problem. Being armed with a list of questions prepares you with what to ask, and again maximizes the results you will achieve in your short visit with your doctor.
Become an Active Member of Your Medical Team
Regardless of what condition you suffer from, having knowledge of your condition allows you to be a part of your medical care. The internet provides us with vast knowledge on just about every medical condition there is out there. Knowing about what you have and the medical care options that are available will enable you to become a part of your doctor's visit.
However, this is not always received well by doctors. When it comes to doctors, there are two types; ones that are insulted when you come in with the information you have found and ones that feel you are involved in your care and want to play an active part. The first type of doctor feels they have the education and the title of doctor, so who are you to come in with that information. These doctors will either make comments about the misinformation on the internet or they will ignore your information completely. The other type of doctor is willing to discuss what you have found and looks to you as a part of your medical team and an extension of his medical staff. If you are looking to maximize your care in the brief face-to-face time you have with your doctor, finding one of these doctors willing to discuss the information you have found can be a huge asset.
Being experienced in both working as part of a medical team as well as being a patient with a chronic disease, I have learned the importance of making the most out of my time spent with my doctor. Being a part of your medical team and arming yourself with information and questions gives you the edge when it comes to seeing your doctor. Using these tools will help make your treatment plan easier and ease your mind, as you will know you are doing your part to ensure you receive quality care.
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